When I started to reach out to different creatives about re-launching our Creatives Near You Series Jana and Vanessa were at the top of my list! I first met Jana two years ago at an evening party at Altitude Design Summit. We instantly hit it off, and although we’ve never been able to meet up since then, I’ve enjoyed watching Jana’s creative businesses grow and change from an Organic Soda Company to running The Vintage Whites Market with her best friend Vanessa. Over the past year I’ve been impressed and inspired with their beautiful blog posts highlighting their homes’, favorite vintage finds’, yummy recipes’, and of course the latest on their Vintage Whites Markets’. Through their love of antiques and the thrill of the “hunt”, they’ve created a truly unique experience that customers look forward to every year. Named one of the top 25 markets to visit in the United States by Romantic Homes & Flea Market Style The Vintage Whites Market is filled with live music, the best vintage vendors around, door prizes, and great food and family fun.
“The Vintage Whites Market started in 2010 in a garage with 5 vendors, and has grown to be one of the most well-known and attended shows in Montana, with over 100 vendors and markets in 3 different states.” – Vintage Whites Market
Planning an event at this scale, with both coordinators living in different states, can be quite the challenge. I asked Jana to share how they break down the different tasks between two best friends and business partners;
“Vanessa takes care of managing vendors, Jana takes care of marketing and managing the website, and we both decorate and brainstorm the pretty stuff!!” – Jana
Q1) How did the two of you meet and develop a friendship?
Jana: Vanessa and I met at church when we were very young. We grew up together! It wasn’t until I moved to Montana that we realized what a great team we make. I love being in business with my best friend!
Q2) What inspired you to start your own vintage market?
Jana: Originally, we were wanting to open up some sort of vintage business, but it was so expensive! Vanessa had a booth at an antique mall and it just seemed like we could do something that would be exciting and make us some money. We started out as a monthly garage sale…literally out of her garage with about 5 other vendors. It was so small, but right away we realized that people were hungry for that type of event!! Within a year, we had outgrown her garage and moved to the field down the road with about 50 vendors. This year, we’ve expanded to three states…over 100 vendors, and growing! We are so excited!
Vanessa: We both were into selling vintage finds. Jana mentioned she had heard of someone who transformed their garage into a store. I knew several vendors that I thought might be interested in selling at a monthly sale. Then the ideas just came spilling out.
Q3) What made you decide to organize a vintage market instead of running your own vintage shop?
Jana: The cost! Eventually we would love to have a storefront of some sort, but for now, the markets are cost effective and so much fun! We love the excitement that our markets bring. I think we really have some of the BEST customers around!!
Vanessa: Its so much easier! And I knew from having a couple of my own “shabby chic” yard sales that people will spend money so much faster at a yard sale…because it’s only there one day. Plus we could spend the time between markets rebuilding our inventory.
Q4) You two live in different states, what advice do you have for building a business with a long-distance business partner?
Jana: Communication! Transparency! Humor! My advice is just to talk. Have regular dialogue with your business partner on how things are going, what you can do to make your business better, and have fun with each other! Finding someone whose business strengths are your weaknesses helps a ton too!
Vanessa: We are always texting about everything. We know that the each other work hard on the market AND have busy lives, so we both know to pull our weight. And we know how to disagree. We voice our opinions, debate, and we each know when to give in a little.
Q5) What has been the best promotional tool you’ve used to get the word out and drive traffic to your events?
Jana: Well, it used to be Facebook! They’ve made it a little bit harder to reach our customers, but in the beginning we relied on that to get the word out! Now, we use Instagram and LOVE it. We post pretty pictures and tell people about our market. It’s so fun!
Vanessa: I think having very attractive promo materials in stores was a huge help. And in the beginning, word of mouth.
Q6) We like the art of bartering, what are some tips for doing it respectfully?
Jana: Be polite, and by no means insult the item hoping that you’ll get a better deal on it. I just don’t understand it when people say things like “well it’s not exactly the right color, and there’s some dirt on the bottom. You didn’t get the paint in ALL the cracks…will you take less for this?”
Q7) What is your all-time favorite vintage find, why?!
Jana: The hardest question ever!! I think for me, it would be this gorgeous wooden shoe mold rack that I found at our market two years ago! It fits in any style of decor that I’ve had, it is SO versatile. I’ve had everything from plates to shoes to clothes on it!
Vanessa: I’ve always heard of these amazing finds that people found for next to nothing or free. Well I finally found my own one day in a habitat for humanity Restore. It was a crystal chandelier for $25.
Q8) List a few ways you keep creativity fresh in your day to day?
Jana: I browse Instagram to keep my creativity fresh! Pinterest, blogs, magazines, music, and traveling also spark ideas. Vanessa and I have text conversations that just spiral into new ideas for shoots, blog posts, party concepts, you name it. They go on for hours!
Vanessa: I seem to get more creative when I have to…when we are brainstorming for something. I look at other ideas…on Pinterest usually, and something I see sparks an idea.
Q9) Describe a typical best friend date night?
Jana: I would have to say a movie, some kind of sugary treat, and a comfy couch! Give us a copy of Austenland and some ice cream anyday!
Vanessa: Shopping side-by-side at The Vintage Whites Market
Creative businesses come in all shape and sizes. It’s amazing to be me to see how an idea can spark from a monthly garage sale, into a full-scale event, on a national level, highlighting all kinds of local vendors and goodies.
Now, it’s time to pack up the gals and a big trailer for a weekend of treasure hunting! Mark your calendars for a show near you!
- July 5th – Downtown Somers, Montana
- Sept 6th – Downtown Somers, Montana
- Nov 8th – Fairgrounds in Kalispell, Montana
- Jan 9-10th – The Ranch in Loveland, CO
- March 13-14th – Utah State Fair Park in Salt Lake City, UT
Thanks for inspiring us Jana and Vanessa! Wishing you all our best as you continue to grow as creatives, business owners, and best friends of course!
From The Farm
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